ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is spillover from the February 2, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by LJ user Draggon_flye. It also fills the "Love Without Limits" square in my 1-23-16 card for the Valentine's Day Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Note: This poem is actually quite positive in tone and actions, but it contains things that not everyone enjoys reading. Highlight for the details, some of which are spoilers. Liborio and Olympia are supervillain mobsters in what amounts to a polyamorous relationship with their boss. The two of them are kinky and he is not, and everyone is okay with all of that. Liborio and Olympia also use power exchange and pain -- in this case, spanking -- to achieve other things besides sexual gratification, including access to pent-up emotions and behavior modification. This poem explores the subjective sensations and emotions of using high-impact activities for personal enrichment, and being in a very deep trusting relationship. That makes it NSFW in most contexts, even though this is actually a nonsexual poem. It may also raise issues for people who enjoy this sort of thing but currently lack the opportunity. Please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

Also worth mentioning is that this poem features Liborio and Olympia. I couldn't very well pair them up without giving Ruggiero a turn, and Draggon_flye has reserved the companion poem "Vanilla Is a Spice" for sponsoring next week.


"All You Can Do Is Feel"


For Liborio and Olympia,
each in their different ways,
work is about maintaining control.

He's a tough guy, a bodyguard,
relying on muscle and wits
to protect his charges.

She's a comare, armed with
the more subtle power of pheromones,
against whose forces free will is a fragile thing.

For Liborio and Olympia,
each in their different ways,
release is about letting go
of that firm control.

This is a thing that they do with
each other, because their boss Ruggiero
is as vanilla as the crema pasticcera
filling inside of cannoncini.

He does not take part in this, but
he stands guard outside as they do.

Liborio and Olympia like
a lot more spice in the bedroom,
but this about far more than that.

This is about pain and pleasure,
but it's also about care and comfort.

It's an opportunity to become vulnerable --
for people who are rarely helpless
unless they choose to be -- and
trust that their surrender will be
received in the spirit is it given.

So there are times when
spanking is erotic for them,
and times when it is not,
and these two things are
different for each of them.

Sometimes, it has to hurt to help.

When you do the kind of work they do,
you can't ignore the impact of it forever,
because if you try, you wind up burning out.
You need a way to release the pressure,
to turn off your brain and bring up your body
until you can't think about anything,
until all you can do is feel.

This is what they have found in
their little triad, love without limits.

Liborio is a tough guy, and
it takes a lot to get through to him.

He is in touch with his emotions,
as much medic as bodyguard,
a nurturer as well as a defender;
but he is still a man in a culture that
expects a certain macho approach,
and so sometimes his feelings
get stuck inside because of it.

He knows enough to ask for help
when that happens, and it is Olympia
who leans him against a wall and
gently strips down his defenses
with her superpowers and
her slim, strong hands.

She spanks him first with her palm
to warm him up, and then moves on
to the paddles that can get through
his toughness to the tears inside.

Olympia is a comare, armed
with scent and sensibilities.

It is her job to be both
the beauty and the brains,
to seduce and coax and convince,
to win by finesse what cannot be
gained by force -- a temptation
that ultimately takes a toll.

When she needs it enough to ask, then
it is Liborio who takes her over his knee
and with his capable hand redraws the line
between what is permissible and what is not.

They feel what they feel, deep and true,
the hurt and the comfort, sharp smack
against skin and slow stroke soothing
over the sting it leaves behind.

There are tears when they need tears,
and someone to hold them, as a vase
embraces and shapes the water within it,
a graceful validation of their feelings and
a warm acceptance of their vulnerability.

It is the pain that brings release
from whatever plagues them,
sudden and implacable.

It is the caresses afterward
which affirm for them
that it is okay to cry,
that all is forgiven,

and to Liborio and Olympia,
this is part of what it means

to be Family.

* * *

Notes:

"It’s hard for an educated woman to turn her head off. That’s part of the joy of being a submissive. None of the decisions are yours. When you can’t refuse anything and can’t even move, those voices in your head go silent. All you can do, and all you are permitted to do, is feel."
Cherise Sinclair, Dark Citadel

Self-control is an essential life skill, but it has a dark side. Excessive self-control can lead to aggression, misbehavior, and other problems. Conversely, letting go of it has many benefits. Here are some healthy tips for conserving self-control.

Superpowers include Liborio's Super-Toughness and Olympia's Pheromones. These come with complex ethical considerations which, on top of their extra-legal activities, can pile up significant stress. That can also complicate intimate relationships. Folks in Terramagne are just farther along in understanding how to cope with those challenges compared to most other superhero settings.

Polyamory is the practice of intimate relationships between two or more people, which are often but not always sexual and/or romantic. It offers some useful benefits; in this case, Olympia and Liborio meet some needs with each other that they aren't getting elsewhere, overlapping in different ways with the relationships that each of them has with Ruggiero. There are processes and tools for doing this responsibly. Also worth mentioning is that Love Without Limits is the title of a classic book on polyamory, and the bingo square for this poem.

Enjoy a recipe for Cannoncini alla Crema Pasticcera (Puff Pastry Horns with Italian Pastry Cream).
How vanilla is it? This recipe uses an entire vanilla bean. For comparison, you can flavor a bottle of vanilla extract with half a bean. Yes, vanilla really is a spice.

Kink is a sexual orientation that relies on intense sensation and power exchange. Two key concepts, somewhat but not entirely overlapping, are Safe-Sane-Consenual and Risk-Aware Consensual Kink. I count most sex with superpowered people to be RACK, because getting into bed with a soup whose powers could injure or kill you accidentally or on purpose is at least as far out as knife play or breath control. Liborio and Olympia both have excellent control and appropriate training, so what they're doing is as safe as it's possible for them to get, but that is not the same category of "safe" as two ordinary people having missionary sex. (It is also not at all the same as the cape-chasing kink of naries who want to hook up with soups because they find the powers titillating.) However, for many people, the advantages of kink are worth it.

Vulnerability is a vital key to intimacy with important benefits. You can see how this poses a challenge to people whose superpowers protect them from certain types of damage. Fear of vulnerability is common, but largely based on misconceptions. In reality, vulnerability is a strength; it has even been proposed as a superpower because it has potent effects and few people can do it! This is really about creating a safe space in your relationship, especially if your partner is afraid of vulnerability. Accepting vulnerability -- your own and other people's -- is part of accepting love. Understand how to cultivate healthy vulnerability, explore yourself through it, and grow more comfortable with it. It also helps to know how to validate vulnerability in others and encourage them to open up with you.

Surrender can be, paradoxically, an empowering act. This ties into the core of power exchange in kink. Be prepared to surrender in intimate relationships -- which includes close friendships, family ties, and some other partnerships in addition to the sex/romance that people usually think of regarding intimacy.

Spanking is a BDSM activity which can be done for sexual gratification, maintenance of kinky relationships, therapeutic release, behavior modification, or other reasons. Notice that Liborio and Olympia are doing it in different ways, for different reasons, just within the span of this one poem. There are various guides to spanking and how to do it well.

Aftercare is the support and comfort that follows BDSM or other intense activities. Read some guidelines for general and spanking-specific aftercare.

Organized crime often uses a family structure. This includes many temporary or long-term supervillain organizations. The Marionettes are one of the most powerful Families in Terramagne, and what you see here is part of why.

Most superhero settings play up tropes such as power driving people mad and villains being crazy. This is why they are overrun with whackjobs -- and the superheroes aren't in much better shape. The thing is, mental health requires maintenance just like physical health does, and many people neither know nor do that. The average knowledge and practice of this in Terramagne is much higher, though. This is why they can have nice things.

Thank you

Date: 2016-02-05 09:48 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
This was exactly what I was getting at and captures the emotional complexity extremely well. There's a lot more to it than mainstream media often likes to portray. You got it. :-)

Re: Thank you

Date: 2016-02-05 10:13 pm (UTC)
ext_1575623: (Default)
From: [identity profile] draggon_flye.livejournal.com
I linked the poem on my Facebook page. Given the nature of my own writing, I know a lot of people who will probably relate so maybe it can bring in some new readers.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-02-06 02:42 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
This is a very rewarding piece to read, in both plot and cognitive content. Kink isn't part of what I am, but the points about vulnerability and trust are relevant to everybody.

• but this about far more than that
-> this is
> I seem to make this one more often than most typos. (And believe me, Dr. Whom makes plenty of typos. It's just that he notices them and catches them more readily than most folks do.) I think it has to do with the "is" in "this", which makes part of the automated writing habits think you've already written the verb when you've only finished the subject.

• Safe-Sane-Consenual
-> Consensual
Edited Date: 2016-02-06 02:43 am (UTC)

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